New state law no longer requires pistol purchase permit

Published 5:31 pm Friday, March 31, 2023

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RALEIGH – North Carolina residents are no longer required to obtain a permit from their county sheriff in order to legally purchase a pistol.

Roanoke-Chowan area sheriffs Dexter Hayes (Hertford County), Tryone Ruffin Jr. (Bertie County), and Jack Smith (Northampton County) were opposed to ending the permit process.

On Wednesday of this week, both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly were successful in overriding Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 41. That legislation – “Guarantee 2nd Amend Freedom and Protections” – was approved by the General Assembly and sent to Gov. Cooper for his signature on March 16. The Governor vetoed the bill on March 24, but a required three-fifths majority of the NC Senate and NC House vetoed it on March 29.

With that successful veto, Senate Bill 41 immediately became law.

“I wasn’t in support of taking that authority away from the sheriffs,” said Sheriff Hayes.

He added that for those Hertford County citizens who had a purchase permit pending, they will not be issued due to the old law being repealed.

“The permits will go into a file and won’t be issued as the law has been changed,” Hayes said. “We’ve also removed the link [for a pistol purchase permit] from our website.”

“I did not support the bill because it makes it easier for people to obtain firearms,” noted Sheriff Ruffin. “I feel that the local sheriff’s background check would be more thorough than the federal background check they will now go through. Local sheriffs are familiar with individuals who did not have good moral character and individuals who have mental disabilities. The federal background checks wouldn’t catch a lot of things that a local sheriff was able to catch.”

“I didn’t support the pistol permit bill because I felt it was not in the best interest of the citizens of Northampton County and the State Of North Carolina,” said Sheriff Smith. “There will be instances such as domestic violence that will slip through the cracks with this change.”

All three local sheriffs noted that with the repeal of the old law, they will not have to refund the $5 fee to those who had a pistol purchase permit application pending, but not yet issued, prior to March 29.

Senate Bill 41 eliminates the pistol purchase permitting laws effective immediately regardless of any pending applications at the time of repeal. Additionally, G.S. 14-404(e) requires the submission of a $5 fee at the time of application and the law does not allow this fee to be refunded once the application has been submitted for processing.

Senate Bill 41 has no impact on Concealed Carry permits. Since 1995, North Carolina has allowed qualifying residents of the state to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun from the sheriff of the applicant’s home county. The permit is valid for five years unless it is revoked. That process still begins by enrolling and passing a concealed carry class from an instructor licensed by the state.

Additionally, the passage of Senate Bill 41 allows those with concealed carry permits to legally carry weapons into churches that also host private schools, as long as school, including extra-curricular activities, isn’t in session.

It should be noted that even though a person no longer needs to obtain a permit from their county sheriff to purchase a pistol, they are still required to undergo a federal background check to buy the weapon from a licensed dealer.



About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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